The first of many veterans was honored Saturday – on this our nation’s birthday – on the Wall of Honor that will now be displayed at Eagle Park on Turner’s Pond.
The Rev. Bill Ichter, a World War II veteran, says he is undeserving of this distinction, but he is honored.
“I’m honored, I’m pleased, but I’m also embarrassed because I can think of 100 guys and women who should be up there,” he said. “I think it’s a wonderful symbol that the American Legion has put up. It gives special honor. Of course we honor 365 men and woman that are up there on that memorial. But this is a special place that the American Legion has erected. I think it’s a nice way to give special honor.”
He says they are going to have a hard time choosing recipients just once per year, because he feels like the American Legion will be flooded with nominations.
A good example of what Minden’s patriotism is, he says, is a woman by the name of Bessie Gartman. She is 80 years old and gave a $200 donation to the American Legion for the Flag Memorial, Ichter says.
“She came to my house and she wanted to give a $200 check to the memorial at the pond,” he said. “I said to her every day you can go by the flag memorial and see something that you contributed to, and so she wrote a $200 check. She heard that we were going to have a service for the K-9 sergeant, and she took out another $50 check and wrote it for a brick to be made for (Sgt. Canvas). That typifies Minden, because everything on that memorial has been given by Minden natives.”
The bricks at the park are part of a memorial to veterans from Minden. A special section has been designated for Purple Heart recipients.
The wall is a granite monument in which a new name will be placed every year.
Rod Gann, a Vietnam veteran and member of the American Legion Color Guard, says all the flags will be changed out during a ceremony every year on the Fourth of July. He says nominations will be chosen every Veterans Day and Fourth of July.
Ichter gave special thanks to the Louisiana Army National Guard for their time and effort taking over the upkeep of Eagle Park.
“We are grateful to Sgt. Maj. Kennedy and the guys at Camp Minden,” he said.
The park at Turner’s Pond has always been maintained by private donations. George Fithen, Ichter says, doesn’t get the recognition he deserves for taking care of the park and the donations for its upkeep.
“He’s put so much (into it),” he said. “He is the originator of that whole thing.”
The American Legion is now responsible for the flag ceremonies with the exception of the flags representing each branch of military service.